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Anatomical knowledge and epistemological encounter during colonial period
Jayanta Bhattacharya, MBBS, PhD Independent scholar P.O: Raiganj, West Bengal, India, PIN: 733134 Email: drjayanta@gmail.com

Introduction: The case of Ivan Ilych In Tolstoy’s The Death of Ivan Ilych (1886, translated by Louise and Aylmer Maude), the doctor seemed to imply “if only you put yourself in our hands we will arrange everything – we know indubitably how it has to be done, always in the same way for everybody alike.” But he was obsessed with the question if his case was serious or not. The real question was to decide between a floating kidney, chronic catarrh, or appendicitis. We are faced with a number of problems related to medicine, health, body and disease arising out of reading this classic. If Ivan Ilych is eager to know of organ localization of his disease, the doctor appears to be omnipotent (and omniscient too) regarding medical decision. Ivan tried to “translate those complicated, obscure, scientific phrases into plain language”. But the assured authority of the doctor seems to be irrupted by a contradiction drawn from the examination of urine and the symptoms that showed themselves. Finally, “Reviewing the anatomical and physiological details of what in the doctor’s opinion was going on inside him”, Ivan understood it all. He began to think of the operation that had been suggested to him. To him, “It’s not a question of appendix or kidney, but of life and …death.” The observable signs and the patient’s symptoms were increasingly matched to findings of pathological science. We, the readers of this story, become convinced of the fact that the body is a three-dimensional one. The person of the hapless, wretched, poor fellow Ivan Ilych transforms into pathology inside the body, with its temporal swings expressed in physiology. Ivan died with all his illness narratives in a domestic setting. He was living in the era of “The disappearance of the sick-man from medical cosmology, 1770-1870.”1 “He wept on account of his helplessness, his terrible loneliness, the
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N. D. Jewson, “The disappearance of the sick-man from medical cosmology, 1770-1870”,

International Journal of Epidemiology 2009; 38: 622–633.

therefore overvalued. Medical Humanities 2000.” 4 The anatomist became the person “who has reduced one body in order to understand its morphology. “Disease. the cruelty of God.2 cruelty of man. therefore devalued. was not necessarily to be found only after long and perilous foreign voyages. Did he also think of a few moral and ethical questions which could redress his suffering? We are not sure. Rather. 3 Arthur Kleinman. as also in modern world. 2006). The Body Emblazoned: Dissection and the human body in Renaissance culture Century America (Princeton and Oxford: Princeton University Press. health. psychosocial concern with meanings with the scientifically “hard”. To keep in mind. Healing and the Human Condition (New York: Basic Books. he seems to be in search for some metaphors which could fill in the vacuum of his excruciating pain and long drawn illness. 26: 9-17.2 In Ilych’s case. 2 Kenneth Boyd. The biomedical system replaces “allegedly “soft”. technical quest for the control of symptoms. 5 (London and New York: Routledge. . According to Boyd. and thus to preserve morphology at a later date. healing and wholeness: exploring some elusive concepts”. problems may arise when a metaphor expands in a sphere where it is not challenged or complemented by other equally powerful metaphors which are also expanding.” 3 It could not easily confront the moral problems generated by these new social relationships. and the absence of God.”5 Contrarily. “The colonial subject. A web of proliferating anatomical narratives at the beginning of the nineteenth century contributed “to the making of American professional medical identity and the modern self. 4 Michael Sappol. In that case the metaphor in question may go on expanding its application almost indefinitely.” Actually. 1988). between experience and meaning. illness. A Traffic of Dead Bodies: Anatomy and Embodied Social Identity in NineteenthJonathan Sawday. these metaphors represent the anatomical body of a youthful Greek athlete. the entire cosmos of human life is almost completely filled with objective scientific metaphors which have destroyed traditional morality and the normal range of predictable moral expectations derived form religion or interpersonal subjective network and bondage. 9. in other bodies. elsewhere. Illness idioms crystallize out of dynamic dialectic between bodily processes and cultural categories. 2. Illness Narratives: Suffering. sickness. 2004). in our present day world. or rather the object of a colonial enterprise. 2.

social workers. we may think of the relationship between body. medicine and body Curiously enough. pp. 6 7 Ibid. 95. “Health”. 1994. 12: 174-181. house officers. and glaring lights. 1: 81-84. Peter L. ed.”12 The body is thus transformed into a series of signs and representations. physicians’ assistants. Routledge.”10 Every time the stethoscope was (and is) applied to a patient.9 Technology. Rodopi. attending and consulting physicians. 62. 12 Paul Atkinson. R. physical therapists. “Bodies of Knowledge/Knowledge of Bodies” in Reassessing Foucault: Power. 8 9 Marshall Marinker. Colin Jones and Roy Porter. and beset by the numerous members of the health care team – nurses. ed. and many others…It is little wonder that patients may lose their sense of reality. Hare. . health gets connoted by absence of disease. London and New York. 10 [Emphasis added] 11 David Armstrong. “To become a patient is to establish a healing relationship with another who articulates society’s willingness and capability to help. M. Jayanta Bhattacharya. “The Body: Epistemological Encounters in Colonial India” in Making Sense of Health. nurses’ aides. 1 (New York: McGraw-Hill. Medicine and the Body.. “Why make people patients?” in Journal of Medical Ethics 1975. invaded by tubes and wires.”6 At this intersection.”8 Truly speaking. medical students. Journal of Medical Ethics 1986. 31-54. Twohig and Vera Kalitzkas (Amsterdam and New York. Illness and Disease. 2004). Vol. technologists. Harrison’s Principles of Internal Medicine. 17th edn. 7 After all. Hospitalized patients find themselves surrounded by air jets. Ivan is not the only lone person in the canvas of modern medicine. 4. 2008). health and society as embodied in physician/healer-social assistance-community paradigm in non-metropolitan Indian context.. not a positive category in its own right. Let us have a brief look at the hospital setting as stated in a very important textbook of medicine – “The hospital is an intimidating environment for most individuals. 17-27.3 the alien and savage ‘other’ could be located within the minute and hidden pores contained beyond the body-surface. buttons. it reinforced the fact that “the patient possessed an analyzable body with discrete organs and tissues which might harbour a pathological lesion”11 The modern history of medical technology has made it possible that the body “may be read and interpreted in absentia. 1995). Medical Talk and Medical Work (London: Sage.

British Journal of History of Science 2006. To accomplish his humane task. and a lucrative. Stephen Spender.” 15 But in 1499. Medical Humanities 2000. a movement that has been gathering pace since the Nuremberg Code. Erasmus is said to have praised medicine “as an art essential to the prolongation of life. “The need for ethical awareness and ethical behaviour applies to all dimensions of medicine. modern medicine’s journey diverged from the path hitherto traversed. Ruth Richardson.4 by means of a complex array of technologies of inspection. for example. the physician does need to incorporate the question of ethics in the realm of medicine. bodily pain (dolor corporis). “The attitude is inhumane because it denies our common humanity…it may derive from the fact that many doctors learn in the process of becoming doctors to deny aspects of their own humanity. Ruth Richardson reminds us. 39 (1): 1-28. 355: 935-936. Pathology cannot hold itself somehow distinct from. the sick man became a collection of synchronized organs and confronting us with the dissection of a human body – conveniently called a cadaver.”16 To note. “Examples and experience: on the uncertainty of medicine”. 357 (13): 1273-1275. As a consequence.”14 The body is assumed to be “de-personalised and biographyless” corporeal machine. suspension of joy (intermissio voluptatum). Hospitals get transformed into “curing machines”.”13 However. a practice that promotes individual and political health. Lancet 2000. The new horizon of medicine: Risk factors Importantly. “as though that made it something different from a person who had died. “A necessary inhumanity?”. After anatomical dissection became an integral part of the medical curriculum in the 1800s in the form of ‘‘prosection’’. an inhumane attitude of mind has pervaded medical dealings with a too trusting public. 13 14 15 16 Richardson. “A potted history of specimen-taking”. 26: 104-106. [Emphasis added] . legitimate profession superior to law. New England Journal of Medicine 2007. not just the practice of clinical medicine. with the rise of Hospital Medicine. “The Code”. Katharine Treadway. Physicians often become the only tenuous link between the patient and the outer world. technology has replaced the traditional meaning of disease. or immune to. the use of “the prolongation of life” connotes a kind of Āyurvedic view of life.

appearing and disappearing. has no fixed or necessary relationship with future illness. but the risk factor opening up a space of future illness potential. It may be argued that such descriptions are “not only debatable on its own merits but is also tautology – molecular research leads to more molecular insights than nonmolecular research. however. sign and illness. Moreover. It involves a fundamental remapping of the spaces of illness which includes the problematisation of normality.17 A case in point is transformation of the descriptive angina pectoris to pathophysiological ischemic heart disease. though does not necessarily produce. Symptom. Making Sense of Illness: Science. The risk factor. . Such inherent contingency is embraced by the novel and pivotal medical concept of risk. sign. Robert A. and Disease (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. but high blood pressure is simply a risk factor for another illness (stroke). A headache may be a risk factor for high blood pressure (hypertension). sign and disease and subsumes them under a more general category of “factor” that points to. a new kind of medicine Surveillance Medicine seems to be emerging. in Surveillance Medicine illness becomes a point of perpetual becoming.”18 More about “risk factors” Despite the obvious triumph of a medical theory and practice grounded in the hospital. It simply opens up a space of possibility. and the localisation of illness outside the corporal space of the body. The development of molecular biology is also an example of this. some future illness. The new 17 18 Bjorn Hofmann. It is no longer the symptom or sign pointing tantalisingly at the hidden pathological truth of disease. investigation and disease thereby become conflated into an infinite chain of risks. The implication is that self and community begin to lose their separateness. aggregating and disaggregating. Pathology in Hospital Medicine had been a concrete lesion.5 and fear of death (metus mortis). “The technological invention of disease”. Aronowitz. 1998). crossing spaces within and without the corporal body. the redrawing of the relationship between symptom. the risk factor exists in a mobile relationship with other risks. Society. 27: 10-19. Medical Humanities 2001. Under Hospital Medicine the symptom indicated the underlying lesion in a static relationship. ix. A symptom or sign for Hospital Medicine was produced by the lesion and consequently could be used to infer the existence and exact nature of the disease. Surveillance Medicine takes these discrete elements of symptom.

“The rise of surveillance medicine”. Moreover. Āyurveda is not a system of medicine but a dynamic philosophy of life by which one can attain healthy individual and social life so as to perform the functions efficiently and fulfill the social obligations fully. Volumes 1-5 (Delhi: Sri Satguru Publication. Dominik Wujastyk. 1998). happy and unhappy is Life. Sūtrasthana. Das. “The union of body. 2: 1-5. Caraka-Samhitā. 2003. 19 David Armstrong. Kaviratna and P.19 To note. 17 (3): 393-404. this particular perception of extra-corporeal space comes closer to Āyurvedic view of the body and disease causation where karma and extra-corporeal factors may affect a human body. V. Rahul P.6 dimensionality of identity is to be found in the shift from a three-dimensional body as the locus of illness to the four-dimensional space of the time-community. 21 Translations adopted from A. That is a powerful persuader. Sociology of Health & Illness 1995. Treatment was also decided on this basis.”21 (Caraka-Samhitā.40). Nityaga and Anubandha. senses.” (CS. Sharma. That (knowledge) in which are declared its nature. but if those little squiggles on the paper tell the doctor that he ahs got trouble. “The Characteristics of a Dosa”. Journal of European Āyurvedic Society 1992. The Roots of Āyurveda (New Delhi: Penguin Books. International Journal of Epidemiology (reprinted) 2001. 2006) 22 P.22 Āyurvedic medicine largely relied on its own system of physiology and pathophysiology to explain the nature of humans and disease. 30: 427-432. Hence. The Origin of the Life of a Human Being (Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass. Jīvita. and what is beneficial to it and what injurious. is called the Science of Life. 20 Geoffrey Rose. mind and soul is called Life. . “Good. and measure. C. Sharma. Sū. Essentials of Āyurveda ((Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass. it might not be a wild conjecture that Indian population.41) The Caraka-Samhitā begins with this title – prathamo dīrghjjībitīyādhyāyah (the first chapter is on the prolongation of life or longevity) In fact. The latter is known again by the names of Dhār. 2004). evil. is amenable to the new paradigm of medicine. “Sick individuals and sick population”. G Jan Meulenbeld. at the end to attain a perfect bliss of liberation. especially Hindus.”20 Āyurveda: A journey away from and towards modern medicine The question of ethics (and morality) is ingrained within the cosmos and philosophy of Āyurveda. Rose makes us aware of this new characteristic of medicine. then he must accept that he has now become a patient. 1. 1. “A man may feel entirely well. For brilliant discussion on this issue also see. Again.

Without the benefit of knowledge of anatomy and physiology. 8: 16-31.” – P. Ananda S Chopra. 1999). see. dhātu-s and mala-s flow. ed. 1999). tr. Helaine Selin (New York. Boston: Brill. ecology was an integral part of diagnosis of disease – a biogeography absorbed into therapeutics. The basis of Āyurvedic pathology is what Zimmermann has characterized as an “ecological theme”. “A conspicuous aspect of reasonings met with is the tendency to avoid the acceptance of any bodily constituent as a factor capable.”24 Evidently. J. It does have its own explanatory model premised on (1) a bodily frame with channels and conduits through which dosa-s. finally.25 and (3) unaided sensory perception. Filliozat. 26 In the Suśruta-Samh itā – “Land 23 For a brief. Also see. 25 “It was the mastery of a knowledge of these marmas that contributed to the phenomenal excellence of Indian surgery in spite of their knowledge of anatomy being none too accurate or profound. in which the essential qualities of the patient’s environment.23 Meulenbeld explores that tridosa vāda originally was in a flux. 75-83. The Jungle and the Aroma of Meats: An Ecological Theme in Hindu Medicine (Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass. 2003). The dosa s regulate physiological processes. II. a discourse on the world (natural history) contained within a discourse on man (medicine). Education in Ancient India (Leiden. pathogenetic process. 26 Francis Zimmermann. Traditional South Asian Medicine 2008. Boston: Kluwer Academic Publishers. It was purged of any dissenting note or theory and. 2002). “Some Neglected Aspects of Āyurveda or The Illusion of a Consistent Theory. but they may also initiate pathological processes. adapted to the prevailing theory (obviously of Brahminic origin). yet insightful. Dev Raj Chanana (New Delhi: Munshiram Manoharlal. animals. of initiating physiological and. independently of the dosas. The Suśrutasamhitā”.7 the aim being to restore the normal state. The Classical Doctrine of Indian Medicine: Its origins and its Greek parallels. The qualities associated with the dosa s are also important for dietetics and therapy as actions or drugs of the opposite quality treat the respective increase. discussion. and people with a collection of material deposits. 24 Meulenbeld. Kutumbiah. 33.. imbue plants. “Āyurveda” in Medicine Across Cultures: History and Practice of Medicine in Non-Western Cultures. particularly the soil. 1964). One of the most important features of Āyurveda is the doctrine of three dosas. such a system and view of medicine does not need any precise anatomical knowledge. or any knowledge of organ localization of disease. . more especially. (2) surgery without anatomical knowledge but based on marmans which served the purpose of regional anatomy. Ancient Indian Medicine (Chennai: Orient Longman. Hartmurt Scharfe.

Since even minor surgical procedures like “bloodletting (the fifth of the evacuant therapies) has fallen into disuse. 29 Bimal Krishna Matilal.28 Some of the salient characteristics of this philosophical position are – (1) psychologized logic or epistemology. Francis Zimmermann.12) [Translation by P.. based on a Sanskrit image.”27 Although. 29 (2) truth-validity coherence.” (Sūtrasthāna. and replaced by oily enemas. 15. 1: 7-32. . 36. at least since the XVIIth cent. enmeshed within a philosophical milieu and praxis of different philosophical schools like Sāmkhya.” 33 Another important example may be the Sanskrit word 27 28 Ibid. 3. 141-151 (149). Āyurveda did have its own philosophical position and explanations. 1999). blacksmith and other illiterate people living at the margin of the society. hence combined with nature of land. no osteology or physiology. The Character of Logic in India. Paul U. ed. “Universal (sāmānya) and Particular (viśesa) in Vaiśesika and in Āyurveda”. Logic. Journal of European Āyurvedic Society 1990. 1989).30 and (3) nonrefutative enthymemes of counter-demonstration.8 endowed with smell. 14. see. Unschuld (Dordrecht and Boston: Kluwer Academic Publishers. it was removed from the set of pańcakarman. surgery and midwifery remain as mere empirical skills devolved upon low-caste specialists.31 To emphasize. Sharma] “There could have been no zoology in the minds of the Indian scholars. 30 31 32 Ibid. Bimal K Matilal. In Zimmermann’s observation. Vaiśesika etc. but only a dominant conception. plants are endowed with six rasas.ehess. Onto these name lists are grafted an amazing combinative system of “savors” (rasa) and “qualities” (guna).). http://www. there are endless “garlands of names” (nāmamālā).html. there has never been one single conception of the body in Āyurveda. 33 Francis Zimmermann. 96-97.”32 This is a clear pointer to the rejection of surgical practice (and anatomical too) from the domain of scholastic mainstream Āyurveda. Anatomical and surgical practices were relegated to the hands of barber. Reference: Perception.fr/centres/pri-al/nature/body. potter. The Conception of the Body in Ayurvedic Medicine: Humoral Theory and revised and published on the web in November 2005. V. 1999). “Today (I mean.. colour and taste is of six types. Jonardon Ganeri and Heeraman Tiwari (New Delhi: Oxford University Press. Instead. Language and Reality (Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass. For stimulating discussion. Antonella Comba. “Terminological Problems in the Process of Editing and Translating Sanskrit Medical Texts” in Approaches to Traditional Chinese Medical Literature. ed.

foreboding death. . a disease is something that gradually is made manifest.37 FIG. A History of Indian Philosophy. 1[Cowasjee’s portrait with the reconstructed nose] 34 Surendranath Dasgupta. Gentleman’s Magazine and Historical The Johns Hopkins University Press. It may be pertinent to remember what Edelstein observed in Greek context – “while carrying on his business he was not a “scientist” applying theoretical knowledge to the case at hand…these doctors certainly were among the finest examples of unsolicited curiosity and delight in learning. ed. 35 As these ancient healers had little to offer as effective remedies in any critical condition. 2) 35 36 G Jan Meulenbeld.34 Organs inside the body are anatomically fanciful. Ludwig Edelstein.”36 Colonial encounters In my analysis. At the end of this process recovery takes place or fatal signs (arista) appear. 64.. prognosis was weighed over diagnosis. Secondary affections (upadrava) are consequences of the basic morbid process. 2008). 37 Chronicle for the Year MDCCXCIV 1794.9 haliksna. 351. Ancient Medicine. the first exposure of Indian anatomical knowledge before European medical practice took place through the discovery of Indian rhinoplasty performed on Cowasjee in 1794. Vol. 612. The Mādhvanidāna (Delhi: Motilal Banarasidass. Unlike organ localization of disease in modern medicine. This word does not actually occur in the medical literature. Vol. “Curious Chirurgical Operation. which has been translated as the gall-bladder. 1994).”. Prodromes (pūrvarūpa) develop into fullfledged symptoms (rūpa). Part 2: 891-892. II (Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass. 1991). 288 (fn. Owsei Temkin and Lilian Temkin (Baltimore and London: B(arak) L(ongmate).

. a man who had his nose reconstructed with the aid of plastic surgery. International Journal of Hindu Studies 2009. London. more emphasis was put on European anatomical education. It was even suggested that rhinoplastic methods practiced by the Brancos of Italy were borrowed from India. first in Native Medical Institution and then in the Medical College of Calcutta.London (288 Holborn): 1 January 1795) It was the most important encounter of Indian anatomical knowledge vis-à-vis European surgery. 13 (2): 189-228. Courtesy: Wellcome Library. 138-139.) In this drawing. Two medical images of Indian body may be mentioned here: (a) the famous Āyurvedic man.: Iconographic Collection 574912i. London Library reference no. 2 [The famous Āyurvedic man. Cribbs.10 (L0007335 Courtesy: Wellcome Library. Engraving and text 1795 By: James Wales after: William Nutter Published: James Wales of Bombay at Mr. we visualize (1) the Anatomical study of a man standing with Nepalese and Sanskrit texts showing the Āyurvedic understanding of the human anatomy. Dominik Wujastyk “Interpreting the Image of the Human Body in Premodern India”. London. and (b) another image drawn in the Persian Tasrīh-I Mansū rī style. to add. 1873). and. 38 39 George Mason. Cowasjee. (2) this picture is the first illustration known so far following Āyurvedic anatomical knowledge.39 FIG. Carver & Gilder. (L0017592 Credit: Wellcome Library. On the Surgery of the Face (London: J & A Churchill. All the channels and viscera are illustrated twodimensionally on a single plane. 38 Having been exposed to such Indian surgical excellence.R.

not medical. finally (5) besides pulse examination. consequently. to my opinion. but in an old-Gujarati manuscript. (2) transmission of knowledge only through gurukul system. there was no other use of any technology. and. some glaring characteristics (amounting to deficiency) of Indian medical knowledge system were laid bare – (1) absence of any institutional medical teaching and use of atlases or anatomical models. Western India.11 FIG. about eighteenth century. getting them marginalized. in tandem. excellence based on precise anatomical knowledge and new diagnostic technologies like stethoscope. sphygmomanometer and chemical analysis led to its victorious march. (4) absence of printed books. and (2) to become compatible with modern medicine it was mandatory to learn anatomy. 3 [Courtesy: Wellcome Trust. In the Tasrīh-I Mansūrī style. was professionalized. European surgical. clinical charts were produced and modern investigations done. (3) total absence and abhorrence of anatomical study amongst Āyurvedic practitioners. only hand-written manuscripts being used. The avowed . People were treated in those hospitals.) Following this encounter.] (Indian anatomical painting. Traditional Āyurvedic practice of treating patients at their domestic setting was reconstituted. Wellcome Library. Moreover. Āyurvedics were caught within a two-edged sword – (1) since antiquity surgical practices were forsaken by high-caste practitioners. Āyurveda. Various local indigenous practitioners of surgery were brought to mainstream surgical procedures. Wellcome MS Indic ‘74. made to be acutely aware of their deplorable lack of anatomical knowledge and. Āyurvedic hospitals were built up. London.

2. vanish. Āyurveda Paricay (Introduction to Āyurveda) (Calcutta: Visva Bharati Granthalay. energies. Āyurveda was epistemologically reconstituted for ever. 44 The most important changes came in the realm of medical illustrations. Without having any sort of heritage and tradition during last 3000 years. 43 44 strategies (Dissertation submitted for PhD – Anthrpopology – in the University of Michigan. 42 Gananath Sen. a very eminent English educated Āyurvedic practitioner of Calcutta. depending on the context and the goals of translation and interpretation. whose fees were even greater than European surgeons. its particular context of social ideology and social structure. the physician makes use of a combinative system of saps and properties.” 41 Paul U. 31. 2009). Unschuld.. Each and every term used in Āyurveda was explained in the light of modern scientific connotation. 40 A conceptual system of medicine ceases to be vital and creative “when its major legitimizing circumstances. 1999). organ systems. He chanted the first mantra of Āyurvedic renaissance.12 supremacy of tri-dosa theory bereft of anatomical knowledge was dislocated.”41 It led to the “renaissance” of Āyurveda. explicitly told. Rahul Peter Das has brilliantly pointed to this problem. Gananath Sen. were diligently re-interpreted to bring them into line with terms derived from Western medicine. Charles Leslie and Allan Young (New Delhi: Munshiram Manoharlal. either in reality or in the aspirations of a population. brain. 44-61. IA (Gronongen: Egbert Forsten. These figures were “made” Indian by tagging Sanskrit terms with the organs illustrated.” 42 As a result of this revival.”43 What were once dosa s are now also neural-hormones. The Conception of the Body in Ayurvedic Medicine. physiological processes. ed. He draws attention to the translation of 40 Zimmermann. Even illustrations like that of the internal ears. “The period of renaissance starts from 1830…Madhusudan Gupta went to dissect with his own hands in the newly established Medical College in 1835. heart musculature. Mathew S. A History of Indian Medical Literature. The patient's body is not really visualized. or concepts. Meulenbeld. metaphysical powers. the ancient terms for “physiological and pathophysiological processes. He comments. nosological entities etc. Ayurveda in the age of biomedicine: Discursive asymmetries and counter- 1943). central nervous system – unthinkable to the wildest guess of the ancient physicians – were unhesitatingly reproduced. 1993). . Historically. Wolfgram. there was a sudden deluge of anatomical illustrations unscrupulously copied from standard text books of the time. “Epistemological Issues and Changing Legitimation: Traditional Chinese Medicine in the Twentieth Century” in Paths to Asian Medical Knowledge. “Instead of an anatomy.

] FIG.13 peśi as muscle. 562. Sengupta and U.] 45 Rahul P. graha (pariĀyurveda Samś ta)is (Calcutta: C. K. it meant rather chunk of flesh to ancient Indian medicine. Sen. . 18.1902). unlike muscle with its contractile character. Sengupta. 5 [The above picture is from Gray’s Anatomy. 45 Let us examine some of these pictures so reproduced. The Origin of the Life of a Human Being (Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass. 2003). 4 [The picture is taken from D. FIG. To him. 1918. the two pictures are quite similar. In this edition colour printing was introduced. Needless to say. Das.

copied from a modern anatomical textbook.] . 5 [Picture of the brain above and those of the heart.14 FIG. lungs and internal ears below in the above mentioned Āyurvedic text.

1955). Mines. . a new idea.15 An idea (symbol) is brought into reality indexically. Diane P. 2:33-44. Philosophical Writings.”48 In stead of conceiving the body as solid and bounded (as in biomedicine). Pierce. 47 During a period of violent change in sign-system (as was the case during colonial medical encounter) defining characteristic of the symbol becomes the overflowing of the signifier by the signified. 283-288. “The floating signifier is also an explanatory principle for indigenous thought. 47 Irish Journal of Anthropology. an idea that might change other ideas. Āyurveda conceives the body as fluid and penetrable. Thus. 94. engaged in continuous 46 Charles S.46 It is through the reconstruction of the indexical parts of a sign system the entire symbolic order can be reconstructed insidiously – without changing the sign-uses of a local cosmos. expressed metonymically through actions in the life-world. where its use might spawn a rethinking of the symbol. can be appropriated to reconstitute the existing ones explained mytho-historically. ed. “From Homo Hierarchicus to Homo Faber: Breaking Convention through Semiosis”. These are floating energies that are not yet fixed or invested in techniques and signs. and once there emerges socially in material reality. some forces spilling out of the domain of social exchange continually escape it. change habits and hence change “actual behavior in the outer world” in a continuous dialectical process. without changing the prevailing icons of an indigenous society cultural hegemony can be insidiously constructed. The indexical parts of these semiotic symbolic assertions. Metamorphosis of the Body.5. 48 Jose Gill. Within a context of cultural change and during an asymmetric exchange of social forces. 1997. Justus Buchler (New York: Dover Publications.

13 (3): 207-224. They tried for it. many more times with failure. 50 Sudhir Kakar. many times with success. Langford. 49 In many ways. Space. Mystics and Doctors: A Psychological Inquiry into India and its Healing Traditions (New Delhi: Oxford University Press. A new hybrid genre of Āyurvedic practitioners began to emerge – Āyurvedic in the garb.”52 49 J. To them health was not viewed from the perspective of absence of disease. “Commentary on ‘The medicalization of life’ and ‘Society’s expectations of in Mysore. 51 Tapio Nisula. svāsthya becomes sva + sthā + ya (to get reconstituted to the normal state). At this juncture. Shamans. Journal of Medical Ethics 1975.50 Indian subjectivity was reconstituted following anatomical encounter between Āyurveda and modern medicine. Cultural Anthropology 10 (1995): 330-366. 52 health”.51 Beyond clinical detachment or medicalization of life or objectification of body. we may try to “rediscover the old skills of treating the whole patient rather than just the diseases. South India”. “Ayurvedic Interiors: Person. 1: 90-91. Etymologically.16 interchange with the social and natural environment. Anthropology and Medicine 2006. “In the Presence of Biomedicine: Ayurveda. . 1998). Medical Integration and Health Seeking Gordon Horobkin. They perceived svāsthya (nearest English equivalent being Health) in positive sense. but practicing modern medicine. Āyurveda represents Indian subjectivity too. and Episteme in Three Medical Practices”. there remained another group of Āyurvedic practitioners.

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